Update on the Bowen Island Lodge Situation for April 21, 2018

Issues regarding the Bowen Island Lodge continue.

On April 12, 2018, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired met with the Bylaw department of the Bowen Island Municipality to reaffirm our position regarding the covenant governing the Bowen Island Lodge. We asked the Municipality to enforce the covenant that protects the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind as well as the residents of Snug Point. We were informed at the meeting that Bylaw will be meeting with the Bowen Island Lodge on April 30, 2018. What exactly the contents of the April 30 meeting will be were not disclosed. Bylaw also scheduled a follow up meeting with the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually impaired for May 2, 2018.

We have reason to believe that this matter will go before Council soon, making letters of support even more important than ever. If you have submitted a letter of support, we thank you and invite you to join those of us who will be going before council during public comments on Monday, April 23, 2018 at the regular Council meeting scheduled for 9:30 AM at Municipal Hall.

If you have not yet submitted a letter of support or are just now hearing about the serious issues being raised about the Bowen Island Lodge, you can find all the information here.

We thank you in advance for your continued support. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us via the contact page on www.campbowen.ca or at +1 (604) 947-0021.

Update Re: Bowen Island Lodge Situation

Hello Everyone,

After receiving inquiries into whether or not our meeting with the Bowen Island Municipality, scheduled for April 12, 2018, would be open to the public, we realized that we were unclear in our original communication as to the nature of the meeting. The meeting was set up by the Bylaw Office of the Bowen Island Municipality and not by the Municipal Council. It was therefore, unfortunately not open to the public.

We may yet need to appear before Municipal Council and greatly appreciate that members of the community are willing to attend when that happens. In the meantime, we will keep everyone posted as to our progress.

We thank everyone who expressed interest in attending the meeting today and apologize for the confusion.

For those of you who took the time to send letters of support, thank you. Your letters of support are important pieces of the case we are making.

We look forward to providing all of you with updates on the situation soon. To sign up to get updates, please go here.

Thank you for your continued support of our struggle. Your support means the world to the team here at Camp Bowen as we fight for the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind and Bowen Islanders. We couldn’t do it without you.

Warm regards,
Alex Jurgensen
On behalf of:
The Camp Bowen Team

Help to End the Injustice Happening On Bowen

For immediate release

Please circulate to as many interested groups or individuals as possible.


All campers from the 2016 adult retreat on the patio of the Bowen Island Lodge with Deep Bay in the background.

On April 12, 2018, we, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired, the Bowen-based non-profit that took over CNIB’s summer camp program in the fall of 2010, will be meeting with the Bowen Island Municipality to seek enforcement of the Bowen Island Lodge Covenant, which protects the rights of our Bowen Island neighbours as well as those of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community. Breaches of the covenant have already lead to the cancellation of the 2017 camping season, marking the first summer camps have not been held in 54 years, and have far reaching consequences.

In 2002, a covenant governing the lands and facility that is the Bowen Island Lodge was put in place by the Bowen Island Municipality that protects the residential nature of Snug Point and ensures blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind individuals have access to a facility for recreation, meeting, and training. The covenant, which was signed by CNIB and the Bowen Island municipality and which also applies to their respective successors, was designed to restrict the use of the lands and facility in keeping with the residential nature of Snug Point by designating the principal use of the Bowen Island Lodge as “recreation, training and meeting facilities related to the care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities…” (Covenant P. 4), activities that do not typically disrupt the surrounding neighbourhood. Furthermore, the covenant places restrictions on the amount of accessory use events, events not considered part of the principal use, that can be held at the facility to ensure that the principal use group has access to the facility and to reduce the amount of noise and other issues typically associated with an event space and resort. When the covenant was instated, it created Canada’s first and only legally protected recreation, meeting, and training facility for the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind.

In early 2016, the Bowen Island Lodge changed hands, from the trethewey family, who had purchased the property from CNIB in 2011, to the Hundred Year Education Group Corp., a company with off-shore owners. Under this new ownership it has been made very clear that they intend to run the facility primarily for accessory use groups. Repeated attempts by organizers of programs for the principal use group to resolve issues of affordability, safety, and accessibility have met with no success.

There is no mention in the lodge’s marketing of the principal use group, something that serves to reenforce their position. A closer look at their marketing reveals that the lodge is advertising itself as having a capacity of 200 people, when the covenant clearly states a hard limit of 150 people for its largest events.

In June of 2017, two months after the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired’s 2017 Safety and Accessibility Report was released to the Bowen Island Lodge, a representative of Victoria-based Huntington Manner, the company put in charge of the Bowen Island lodge’s operations by the Hundred Year Education Group Corp., sent an answering report. In this report, the representative made it clear that they don’t see the need to follow the covenant as it pertains to the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, citing a paragraph that is superseded later in the covenant. To the best of our knowledge, according to the covenant, at the end of the day, all parts are to be interpreted according to the spirit of the covenant, which is to protect the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community, as well as the neighbourhood of Snug Point. If correct, this invalidates the representative’s claim. The report goes on to suggest that the answer to the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community’s safety and accessibility concerns, as expressed in our report, is to ensure that any concerned blind, visually impaired, or deaf blind guest be accompanied by a sighted person. This is as ridiculous as saying any concerned black guest should be accompanied by a white person or any concerned female guest should be accompanied by a man and is blatantly unacceptable. Just as society wouldn’t tolerate this report were it based on skin colour or gender, neither should we stand for a report that makes such suggestions based on disability. Not only does the report’s recommendations insult the independence of members of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community by its tone and suggestions, it flies directly in the face of what the facility was intended for and the covenant protects. Finally, the report’s suggestions that the society bare the cost of substandard safety and accessibility measures, coupled with the report’s conclusion that the society perhaps look elsewhere for a venue, paint a grim picture of how the lodge views its responsibilities as set out by the covenant.

Today, more than ever before, there is a need for a training and recreation centre for the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind in Canada. The blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community is currently in a state of crisis. There are high rates of depression and low self-esteem, a lack of freedom, and an estimated 80% unemployment rate in the community. A large part of the solution to these problems is access to safe, accessible, affordable, and quality independent living skills training. At present, the Bowen Island Lodge is Canada’s only legally designated training centre for the blind, visually impaired, and/or deaf blind.

The time has come for the facility to be used for its intended purpose and help blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind Canadians become first class citizens in society. This can be accomplished by upholding the existing covenant and ensuring that the lodge’s principal use group remains protected. Bringing in principal use groups as the primary occupants of the lands and/or facilities and keeping accessory use events as secondary would also serve to protect the residential nature of Snug Point.

Failure to protect this unique resource sets a dangerous precedent. The law was put in place to protect both the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community as well as the local neighbourhood and failing to uphold it sends the message that any other laws, not to mention additional parts of the covenant, pertaining to these groups can just be ignored.

And this is where we need your help. On April 12, 2018, we need to show the Bowen Island Municipality that we, the Bowen Island and blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind communities, will not tolerate such behaviour as exhibited by the Bowen Island Lodge from businesses in our community. We need to make clear that businesses cannot get away with disregarding our local laws. We also must make it known that protecting the rights of blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind people and those of Bowen Islanders is important and something we want to see done.

The best way to do this is to write a letter of support. More information, history, all the aforementioned reports, supporting documentation, some sample letters of support, and updates are available through this page on our website.

To submit your own letter of support, you can: use the form found at the above link, email mayorandcouncil@bimbc.ca, or write to:

Mayor and Council
981 Artisan Lane,
Bowen Island, BC
V0N 1G2

We thank you in advance for taking the time out of your busy schedules to read about our predicament.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 menu option 2 or use any of these other methods.

Yours truly,

Alex Jurgensen

On behalf of:

The Camp Bowen Team

Updates

April 10, 2018
Updated to reflect recently discovered information about the sale of the Bowen Island Lodge. The lodge was sold in late 2015 and not early 2016 as originally stated. New evidence also shows that The Hundred Year Education Group Corp. directly owns the property and updates have been made to better reflect this.

Less Than 60 Hours to Order Your Tasty Purdy’s Treats

A wrapped box of Purdy's hedgehogs.

Image copyright Purdy’s

Hello Everyone,

There are less than 60 hours left to get orders in for your tasty Purdy’s Easter treats. With pick up locations set up for Bowen Island, Vancouver, and Surrey, this is not a chance you want to miss!

25% of all proceeds will be donated by Purdy’s to the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired and 100% of that amount will go straight towards programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

For more information, please read our original post.

Or, if you would like to get started right away, just click on the below link and create an account:

Order now!

Remember, you pay the same as you’d pay in-store or online, and the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired gets 25% of sales.

Don’t miss the order deadline: March 12th at 11:59 PM.

We thank you in advance for your support of locally based programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

Please feel free to call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 with any questions you may have about this fundraiser or our program offerings.

Happy Easter,

The Camp Bowen Team

We’re Hopping with Excitement!

A wrapped box of Purdy's hedgehogs.

Image copyright Purdy’s

Hello Everyone,

Easter will be here before you know it, bringing with it family get togethers, easter egg hunts for the children, and, of course, lots and lots of chocolate. This year, it is also bringing an opportunity for you to get your fix of Purdy’s delicious chocolates while supporting programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

Spring into Easter with both featured items for Easter and regular favourites such as: Easter baskets, Baby Bunnies, Bobbity Bunny – Milk Salted Toffees, Topsy Bunnies, Bunny Bags, Peanut Butter Eggs, Yolk Eggs, Caramel Eggs, Petit Pastels, Georgia Plushies, Jelly Beans, Sweet Georgia Browns, Hedgehogs, Easter Tins – and much more!

Purdy’s has been making chocolates in Vancouver since 1907, and it’s still where they craft all your favourites today. Purdy’s uses only the highest quality ingredients like Canadian dairy, crunchy nuts that are roasted in-house, and only 100% sustainable cocoa. On top of supporting the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired, every purchase you make helps improve the lives of cocoa farmers in rural communities.

Easter is just around the corner and Purdy’s chocolates are great treats to offer your friends and family over supper, during an easter egg hunt, or just because. After all, who ever needed an excuse to eat chocolate?

Place your order online now!

You pay the same as you’d pay in-store or online, and the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired gets 25% of sales.

You will need to register by entering your first name, last name, email address and creating a password. Once registered and logged in, you should be directed to the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired Easter Fundraiser Campaign page. From there you are able to: invite other members, shop online, and pay for your orders.

Orders can be picked up at our three pickup locations: Vancouver, Surrey, and Bowen Island. Pickup will take place on the dates below. Please call +1 (604) 947-0021 before March 21, 2018 to arrange a pickup date, time, and location. You don’t pay for shipping!

Pickup Dates and locations

Bowen Island

Where
In front of the library
When
Thursday, March 22, 2018 from 3:15 to 6:45 PM (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 and press 2 to arrange a pickup time)

Surrey

Where
5737 180 St., Surrey, BC
When
Friday, March 23 to Thursday, March 29, 2018 (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 and press 2 to arrange a pickup time)

Vancouver

Where
1720 West 12th Ave., Vancouver, BC
When
Friday, March 23 to Thursday, March 29, 2018 (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 105 to arrange a pickup time)

Don’t miss the order deadline: March 12th

We thank you in advance for your support of programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

Please feel free to call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 with any questions you may have about this fundraiser or our program offerings.

Happy Easter,

The Camp Bowen Team

Introducing Canadian Blindness Services

A young woman walks with her cane. On her arm she wears a yellow bracelet with a paw print on it.

The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired welcomes Canadian Blindness Services to our family of projects. Canadian Blindness Services is designed to be a central and collaborative information exchange and services hub for individuals, families, organizations, and businesses participating within the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community in Canada. We believe that collaboration between those involved in the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community is important because together, we are stronger. We also understand the need to connect those who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, as well as their families, with information and resources, and we seek to meet this need. This project can be found at canadianblindnessservices.com

Canadian Blindness Services is still in the beginning stages. As always, your feedback is welcome. Feel free to contact Canadian Blindness Services via the contact us link on the project’s website.

Camp Bowen Books Project Launches on World Braille Day

8 old books of various colours in a stack

“Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we [the blind] are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals – and communication is the way this can be brought about.”

Louis Braille

209 years ago to the day, Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France. he would later go on to develop Braille, the reading and writing system widely in use by blind people today. It is in his honour that World Braille Day is celebrated. It falls each year on January 4, commemorating his birthday.

On this World Braille Day, we are very pleased to be announcing our contribution to the literacy of blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind readers. It is an announcement we have been working on for some time but today the wraps finally come off.

It is with great excitement that we announce that the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired has now been made a publisher of accessible books by Library and Archives Canada as part of the new Camp Bowen Books Project. The project compliments our summer camps and training initiatives and will not be taking resources away from either. The Camp Bowen Books project aims to produce books in a variety of accessible formats including electronic text, audio, Braille, and others. We don’t plan to stop at the production of accessible books, though. We want to get them into the hands of as many people as possible. To that end we will be offering the books we produce to the public library system and through our website so that they can be enjoyed by readers everywhere, sighted or not. To find out more about the project, visit the “books” tab of the Camp Bowen website.

Like with most things we do at Camp Bowen, volunteers are central. If you would like to volunteer to become a book producer, audio narrator, proofreader, or have another idea on how you can help, please get in touch via the contact page on our website.

We look forward to making this world a more accessible place and doing our part to close the gap between inaccessible and accessible books. We sincerely hope you will join us on this exciting journey.

NVDA Resources

Back in May, we announced that we had collaborated with the Bowen Island Public Library to install NVDA, a free and open-source screen reader that makes computer content accessible to blind and partially sighted users. At the time, we planned to release resources on how to use NVDA, but these plans were put on the back burner due to the ongoing lodge issues.

Today, we would like to share with you a great resource from the American Foundation for the Blind to help get you started with NVDA. This resource will walk you through the basics of NVDA. If using this resource with the public access computers at the Bowen Island Public Library, you can skip the lessons on installing NVDA and Firefox, as they have already been installed and configured.

We hope this resource will help you on your way to learning NVDA.

The Loss of a Friend

Peggy

Photo from the Bowen Island Undercurrent

Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the celebration of life for Peggy would be held on Friday, October 28. The correct date is Saturday, October 28.

It is with a sad heart that we write about the loss of someone who was a friend to many of us here at Camp Bowen over the years. At the end of September, news reached us that  Margaret Elizabeth Proudlock, who most of us knew as “Peggy”, had passed away. Peggy worked for many years at Camp Bowen on the housekeeping staff when the project was still operated by CNIB. Those of us who had the opportunity to know her as campers or work alongside her as staff know what a special person she was, always looking out for those around her. At about the time CNIB sold the property and the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually iMpaired was established, Peggy retired from Camp Bowen, though some of us still saw her around in The Cove.

“I remember Peggy noticing that I was not fitting in this one year at camp as a kid,” recalls Camp Bowen President, Alex Jurgensen. “She let me help her with collecting some of the laundry from the bathrooms. It was like she knew that’s what I needed to feel better. And, of course, it was. After that, my clearer memories of Peggy are those from The Cove post 2010, where we would talk about how the rebuilding of the summer camp project was going. I’ll miss her for sure and I know many campers and staff, past and present will as well.”

A celebration of life will be held for Peggy on Saturday, October 28 at 2 PM. For details or if you need assistance getting there, please call Alex Jurgensen at +1 (778) 908-0521.


If you would like to share your memories of Peggy, you can do so by sending them to us using the contact information on campbowen.ca. If you would like to have us publish your memories here on the website as a tribute to Peggy, please specifically indicate your permission as part of your submission. We require express permission in order to post submissions we receive.

Less Than A Week Away From The 2017 Camp Bowen Showdown Tournament and Annual General Meeting

This is just a reminder that the 2017 Camp Bowen Showdown Tournament and Annual General Meeting will be held in Surrey in just under a week, on Saturday, October 14, 2017.

Thanks to a generous donation from one of our members, we are pleased to present the tournament prize as a gift card to White Spot valued at $25.

Please let us know if you plan on attending either the annual general meeting or the tournament before Friday, October 13, 2017 so we can best prepare. You can do so by calling +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 2 or by using the contact form on our website.

Our original announcement and teleconferencing details can be found here.